The Human Machine

A machine is a tool that consists of one or more parts and uses energy to meet a particular goal, often powered by mechanical or chemical means. But if much holds true, what does it mean when compared to a human? We are made of many parts and are powered by a brain. We go through our daily lives trying to fulfill goals. Everything we do is based off of some teaching that has been pressed upon us through society, almost like a program we are meant to follow. So this poses the question do the things that shape us, define us? If we were to step outside of the norm, would the machine malfunction?

When connecting to Plato- The Cave Allegory, it wasn’t until he stepped outside of the cave that he was able to discover what it meant to live. For, one does not truly understand unless they shift in attitude to want to get to know the light (Plato- The Cave Allegory).  Growing up I was aware of the differences in the world. Living in Chicago, a place I consider a major melting pot, I knew that no one two people were the same. As I grew older, I learned race, age, gender, sexuality, and class grouped people. What you know can’t be explained (The Matrix). I unknowingly learned that when these groups interacted, it could cause a disturbance within the machine.

For the inventors of the machine thought the only way it would function properly was if these groups had distinctive roles. Whites were meant to have everything the world had to offer. Blacks were to serve them.  Although the picture painted showed them as happy, they were actually oppressed. Males were powerful, playing major roles in society whereas females were meant to serve them. And when it came down to class, the haves had everything they needed and the have not’s, well they were left to scrounge up what they could.

But if for one moment the roles were switched, it could cause a major breakdown. The machine would have to be worked on and everything wouldn’t be right until the correct roles were established again. Our social function is so set on staying content with what is “perfect” that we miss out on what is “imperfect”. The machine is telling us how to literally function. Yet, the only reason it affects us so much is because we let it hold so much power. Power plays its own role in shaping us “the machine”. It can turn on and off and only operates off of how much time and energy we give it. When feeding into the machine, we lose sight on what is real and start feeding into what is fake. We get consumed in what power thinks is appealing from what we wear, how we talk, and who we surround ourselves with.

Remember what is important on the inside is also important on the outside to the manufacture of the machine. Sales bring in income. The old saying goes “don’t judge a book by its cover”. In todays society, we get so caught up on what the media thinks is appealing.  In order to be considered in, the type of clothes, car, and income all matter. But in the end, those material possessions mean nothing. It is so easy to say something is not worthy just by the way it looks. They do not define who you are on the inside.human-machine

For instance, look at what Steve Jobs did with the creation of Apple, a company where machines have literally taken control of the world. It serves to be the model of the ideal company creating ideal machines for us to stay up to date in today’s society. Our reality is blurred and we begin to perceive everything as less than, especially when we equate it the success he’s had and the impact Job’s has had in our world. This is where the machine begins to break down again. Except this time it cannot be fixed. There is no reset button next to power, nothing to be rewired, and ultimately, we are stuck. Or are we?

The movie, The Matrix, depicts just what happens if we were to disconnect ourselves from machines and begin living in “reality”. In the movie, Neo, a computer hacker, enters a new reality after taking a pill. Within this reality, humans and machines are at war. The humans have lost leaving them connected to machines, which use them as a source of power. With the help of Morpheus he is unplugged and able to discover a new way of living, more than the reality he was once experiencing. “The Matrix” has the ability to control everything, yet Neo has learned to defy it. In the ending scene Neo calls the Matrix promising to show a “new world”.

“A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries, a world where anything is possible, where we go from there is a choice I leave up to you”- The Matrix. Over time society has built up the perfect framework for us as machines. Yet it is not until we defy our programing that our framework can no longer define us. By doing this we begin to challenge all notions of power. One man no longer holds power, but we discover that power is held by us. We are building the machine.

Thinking back to where our society was forty plus years ago and where we are now, we have evolved. It is evident that with time comes change. When I was in the forth grade we didn’t have much freedom at all. I vividly recall our school pledge that stating, “I will listen, I will learn, and I will obey the rules”. Following the directions of the machines manual to a tee, in order not to cause a disturbance. If for any reason the directions were not followed you were sent to the principal or “manufacturer” so that the issue could be addressed.

In working with the children from Walnut Street School, I was able to see the difference in the machine I was once apart of and the machine they are creating. At the age of ten and eleven these children are experiencing what it means to defy the machine. They are in classrooms where race is not foreign, individuality is pushed, and learning to be a global citizen is the focus. They have learned to see beyond color, and their world is not black and white. Through stories and evidence over time, the machine continues to be ever changing.

Remember the choice is left up to us if we want to continue to live within the machine society has created for us or take the step and create our own. My journey and time spent here at Drake University has been a testament to me creating my own machine. I’ve surrounded myself with a diverse group of people, tapped into my creativity, and continue to surpass goals that I set for myself. Sounds like an ideal manufacture, right? My machine has yet to malfunction. The parts are working collectively to reach a common goal. Sometimes the gears may interfere with each other but no one part is more important than the next. My machine has the ability to restart everyday, updating the system in order to make improvements along the way.

Just like me, other people make their own machines daily. Our basis may not all be the same, our goals can vary, and perception at times can be blurred. Yet, our machines work whether or not society finds them to be the ideal product. We hold the power and create our own new world.


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